Greg Louganis wins Olympic diving gold after hitting board, Seoul 1988.
His fabled accomplishments occurred on a board, above a pool, across an international sports stage upon which he became one of the greatest of Olympic athletes.
Yet Greg Louganis is most frequently reminded of his past glory when he gets a haircut.
“Everyone who touches my head wants to see the scar,” he says. “They’re always like, ‘Oh, my God, is it still there, can I touch it?”
Twenty-five years ago, the scar was a wound that bled its way into Olympic history. It emerged from an unforgettable moment of terror, followed by an equally memorable act of triumph. It not only shaped Greg Louganis’ scalp, but, as the world later learned, it provided a new definition of human strength.
“Somebody once said that, at that moment, I was the toughest sissy in the world,” Louganis says with a grin.
At the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, Louganis hit his head on the end of the board during a reverse somersault dive in the preliminaries of the 3-meter springboard competition. Less than 30 minutes after suffering a cut that eventually required five stitches, he climbed back up on the board and executed the best-scored dive of the day, leading to an eventual gold medal that helped cement his status as the greatest male diver ever.
That head is now gray. The diving has been replaced by spinning and yoga. Thankfully, the scar remains.
“I tell the stylists, ‘Hey, you’re gonna be up there anyway, you might as well look at it,” Louganis says.
Louganis is sitting on a couch at his fiance’s Beverly Hills apartment. He is 53 now, and even though he looks as fit as when he became the only male diver to win two Olympic individual golds in consecutive Olympics, much has changed.
“In some ways, if feels like a lifetime ago,” he says.